It was on a coaching call about six months ago that a person I respect a lot mentioned a book called Crucial Conversations. Any time certain people flippantly mention a book they’ve gotten a lot out of, I write it down. In fact, most times I go straight on Amazon Prime and order it that second.
It took a few months before I was able to make time to read this book, because of course I already had a stack of them ready to go. Then one day I felt a strong impression that I should put down what I was reading and pick this one up. I am so, SO glad I did! Since I read this book, I have referred back to the content dozens of times and have used every one of the tools. Let me tell you a bit about it.
Crucial Conversation: A discussion between two or more people where (1) stakes are high, (2) opinions vary, and (3) emotions run strong.
Ever had one of those before?
As leaders, of course we have them all the time. We have them as pastors, as friends, as parents, as spouses. We regularly have opportunities to hold crucial conversations well, or to default to the “fool’s choice”: believing that the only two options are silence (withdrawing or passive aggressiveness), or violence (lashing out or becoming defensive).
Crucial Conversations offers really simple tools in how to first get our minds right when we realize we need to talk to someone—we start with the heart and tell ourselves the right stories. It discusses how to tell which subjects we should approach and which to let go, how to start a conversation and then reestablish trust as soon as defensiveness or shame rear their ugly heads, and how to move to accountability once the discussion has been successful.
Even though it is filled with leadership principles and communication skills, it is really easy to read. The authors tell stories nonstop, some in a business context but not all (for example, they illustrate how a mother could carry on a crucial conversation with her teenage daughter who is dating a suspect older man). Because the principles are so wise and also so simple, I have found it to be really helpful in pretty much every area of my life. Often I ask myself, “Okay, am I telling myself the right story?” or “Hmm…seems like the conversation just got unsafe for this person—how do I get it back on track?”
The truth is, I was already having crucial conversations all the time, but just not usually in the right way. Maybe that’s you too! If you are a leader, get this book today and read it soon! It will help in every area of life.